Star Trek: Enterprise

Season 2 Episode 22

Cogenitor

5
Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Apr 30, 2003 on UPN
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (14)

8.1
out of 10
Average
163 votes
  • lol at the moraiity warriors

    7.5
    So you think that Archer should go around trying to impose his morality on people that he not only barely knows or understands but are also a completely different species?



    I would hope that you are also vehemently in favor of 'benevolent'/progressive imperialism aka a large part of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.



    And that you are constantly advocating the "administration" of most of Africa, Middle East, Asia and S. America by more 'progressive' powers?



    And that you want to forcibly scrub the hate, intolerance and anti-science/intellectualism from all religions and hold parents/guardians criminally responsible for brainwashing children into believing fairy tales?



    And that you are in favor of forcing every country in the world to build nuclear power plants and start planting GM crops because it is both the moral/ethical and smart thing to do?



    And that you would have every astrologer, homeopath, chiropractor, acupuncturist, psychic, anti-fluoridation and anti-vaccination person thrown in prison?



    I could go on but your dumb and shallow way of 'thinking' is not worth anymore of my time.
  • A clever episode about realpolitik

    8.0
    Von Rochau in the 19th Century referred to a diplomatic principle called 'realpolitik' which was diplomacy based on realistic and practical considerations rather than moral or idealistic notions.

    The fact is you've got a species 1000 years ahead technologically and understandably annoyed at humans applying (in their eyes) absolute values and assuming they have the moral absolutes even though they are being highly hypocritical.



    In season 1 T'Pol notes humans consume animals and that this is repugnant to Vulcans to which Trip observes you shouldnt judge people based on their eating habits...

    If the Vulcans had taken a moral high ground claiming the killing and eating of animals (there is still a moral debate today about whether animals are sentient) was absolutely wrong and then forced humans to change their culture it would have been regarded with anger by humans. In fact it would have probably provoked accusations of imperialism and outright rebellion on Earth.



    The point being is that in the real world of diplomacy you have to accept that other nations, and in the context of Star Trek other species, have different rules and cultural norms and unless you can afford to make enemies of them its best to keep your mouth shut and mind your own business (unless there is mass public outrage at home forcing a political response) and in this episode Archer is smart enough to realise that making friends abroad means compromising moral absolutes at times. This does not mean you have to like them but if you can't afford to make enemies of them, which Earth could not, then its best to be somewhat flexible until you can speak softly AND carry the big stick.



    Archer stated "its not our place to tell you what rights you have" in a similar way in Afghanistan women cannot travel without a male guardian or mingle with strange men. In the West we find this objectionable however even if western diplomats were to insist exactly how would they enforce it? It would place western troops in danger of violent reprisals, thus a realpolitik solution had to be tolerated, however distasteful. Another example is that the West allied with Stalin to destroy Hitler even though Stalin was just as morally objectionable (and killed far more people in camps/gulags than Hitler) yet the Allies aided him throughout the war and refused to assist countries following the war such as Poland (google "Western betrayal") to fight against the Soviets, the Allies even gave Cossacks (who had fought for the Germans) back to Stalin and sent to certain death as there were suggestion that Allied POW's liberated by the Russians would not be returned until this, thus realpolitik.

    Perhaps all the people on this board crying about moral absolutes would have had American and allied troops continue marching to Moscow on a moral absolutist crusade costing more lives? The real world requires compromise and sometimes that includes your personal opinions and feelings and in this episode the characters portray just how difficult a clash of cultures truly can be and just how complex diplomacy in the real world is.
  • So Slavery off Earth is OK??

    1.0
    Most of the episode was actually great but the ending was maddening. I wish Trip yelled back at at least walked away defiantly. Harriet A. Jacobs is quoted as saying "death is better than slavery". I thought Charles lived more in those 2 days than she ever did before or would've there after. Trip did that for her.
  • Plenty of blame to go around

    3.5
    To be frank, this was a disturbing episode, the kind that could give you bad dreams. That said, who's really to blame? At least four different parties.



    First, Trip did the right thing in discussing his concern with others--T'Pol and Phlox, in particular. I don't know what I'd have had them do differently, but they seemed all too willing to leave Trip with no options but to do nothing--"Hey, it's just one of those things, this is not our culture, they are not even



    But then, incredibly, Trip used deception to gain access to the Cogenitor's quarters, and stirred up doubts in the Cogenitor's mind--not just accidentally, but deliberately and persistently; in fact, he overcame considerable early resistance. The Cogenitor said, "You don't understand," but Trip didn't inquire on this point; he didn't want to hear about what he didn't understand. He just wanted to fix the problem he saw.



    Then there was Phlox. No one has said anything about this, but Phlox made the Cogenitor's specific medical data available to Trip, even stating the opinion that the Cogenitor had mental abilities on a par with the other Vissians. How sure could he be about this? IAC it was a major breach of ethics to divulge such information to Trip, even more so while knowing what Trip was likely to do with it. In the present-day US, this would be a serious HIPAA violation, for which Phlox could likely lose his job, not to mention lawsuits and possibly even criminal charges.



    Then there was Archer, who surely had the most difficult decision, about whether to grant asylum. We don't know what all his dialogue was with the Vissians, but granting asylum would at least amount to taking ownership of the problem, as opposed to just throwing it back over the wall. OTOH it could have had serious repercussions in the form of hostilities with a more technologically advanced race. We're back to: Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one?



    The focus of the wrong clearly must be on Trip, but miscommunication (too little of it sometimes, too much (Phlox, as well as Trip toward the Cogenitor) at others) greatly aggravated the whole situation.



    This really is an example of what the concept of tragedy is all about.
  • Sentient rights only apply to humans?

    2.5
    Spoilers ahoy! Spoilers ahoy!



    Sure, the United Federation of Planet didn't exist at the time, but isn't Archer supposed to get the ball rolling? Yet, in this episode, he clearly puts aside the values of the very constitution of said Federation, because he got to play in a fancy gadget and surf in a sun.



    This is a clear case where Archer should have granted asylum to the cogenitor, she was basically kept as a sex slave. Article nr 3: "Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each sentient has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same



    I tend to enjoy Star Trek Enterprise, but this episode ticket me off. Pissed me off. And not in a good way. The Cogenitor was basically kept as a reproductive slave, a sex slave, in clear violation of her rights as a sentient being. And Archer threw her back. She didn't want to go back, she requested asylum, yet he threw her back. Despicable by Archer, I thought more of him.
  • A brilliant and brutally realistic piece of science fiction that asks tough questions and leaves us with absolutely no answers. [NOTE: Major spoilers in the full review.]

    9.7
    It's unfortunately rare that we get television this good, but when we do, you can bet that it's a Star Trek episode. Even if there were no other episodes in the entire series worth watching (which isn't the case, thankfully), this episode would still prove Enterprise's worth.

    Like most great Star Trek episodes, the basic idea of this one is to throw us a situation we've never had to deal with and let it play out in the most realistic way possible. Here, the situation is that the humans have their first encounter with a three-gendered species (the Vissians) whose third gender is treated as a lower class of citizens. More specifically, they meet a Vissian "couple" for dinner and Tucker notices that their cogenitor (the member of the third gender) is treated as a pet, or perhaps a slave. The cogenitor is involved in the reproduction process and is then usually "used" by another "couple".

    It's a "what if" that is completely improbable given our current knowledge of the universe, yet also completely relevant. We can all imagine how we might react to the situation, and the questions it raises are real ones, even if they can't yet be applied to any real situations. Perhaps that's the greatest strength of this kind of science fiction: there's no real parallel situation, nothing we're really emotionally involved in that might influence how we view the dilemma. This is the power of the hypothetical, fully realized.

    Tucker takes pity on the cogenitor and eventually discovers that it has the same mental capabilities of any other Vissian. He teaches it to read. When the Vissians want to leave, the cogenitor doesn't, and it requests sanctuary. Captain Archer carefully considers and discusses the request, but eventually decides that he must respect the Vissians' culture even though he finds it appalling. Shortly after returning to the Vissians' ship, the cogenitor commits suicide.

    It's hard to think of any other TV episode or movie that poses such thought-provoking questions without promoting any agenda or falling on any side of the issue. The ambiguity of this episode is not frustrating; it's true. How far should cultural relativism go? To what extent should it override human rights? But furthermore, what if, as T'Pol pointed out, we're not dealing with "human" rights? Can we accurately assess a three-gender situation given that we've only had to deal with two? Nobody has the answers to these questions: not the liberals, not the conservatives, not the libertarians, not even Gene Roddenberry. In fact, this episode deals a pretty serious blow to the Star Trek franchise's highly optimistic and sometimes even arrogant view of human reason and progress. It's a powerful dose of humility.

    Of course, credit for the episode's success must also go to the strong characters and the actors portraying them. In particular, Connor Trineer and Scott Bakula both deserve Emmys for their performances in this episode, and the writers also deserve Emmys for creating such interesting characters. Despite the fact that Tucker is largely responsible for the cogenitor's death, few of us can say we don't empathize with the way he handled the situation. He saw someone being oppressed -- not to mention the thousands of others in the same situation -- and felt the need to help her/him/it. He went into this not with arrogance or self-righteous nobility, but with love. And, tragically enough, as sometimes is the case in real life, love failed.

    How do we respond to this? No one knows. Archer certainly didn't know. While he strongly reprimanded Tucker for his actions, he also had to admit that he had no idea what he would have done. The final minutes of this episode paint a powerful picture of sheer frustration, the frustration that plagues us all when we face uncontrollable, unanswerable, unwinnable situations. And it's much more real than what we usually see on TV. When Tucker said "I'm responsible", my instant prediction was that Archer would say something along the lines of "No, no, it's not your fault," which is what usually happens in these shows. But instead we get the shocking, succinct "You're damned right you are," which surprises even Tucker. This is the other half of what makes this episode so fantastic. It's both socially significant and undeniably human. Rarely do those two come together as well as they do here.
  • really stupid! there is no relativity in freedom! have nearly 50 years of amnesty international not told your american screenwriters *something*???

    1.5
    "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue! "

    A Slaveholder stays a slaveholder, even if he is the nicest person on the block! They say that even Adolf Hitler was nice to his dog. And there are a lot of Totenkopf-SS members who probably were really fun to have around, if you weren´t a "untermensch". I don´t have anything against diversity in culture, as long as everyone is free to *choose*. If someone likes to live in a closed community, hitting himself daily with a whip, who am I to keep him from doing so? But if 10 of these guys get together to keep the eleventh from leaving and living his life different... I have to say that I´d told Archer to kiss my ass, the responsibility for the suicide of the cogenitor rests solely with the oh-so-nice Vissians.
  • Captain Archer shows he can totally ignore his own behaviour to play moral high-horsing

    3.2
    This episode is just WRONG - we're supposed to believe Archer is a moral man but when he learns about Trip tries to teach an essentially repressed minority that they're being repressed, Archer turns around and starts pretending that this is something that would never have happened if he'd been in charge - when in fact it's obvious it would.

    That Archer blames Trip for the whole incident is laughable, I think that this is an almost Janeway sized blunder on his part. Not to mention of course that this is never mentioned again... just as well the ole continuity button was off.

    Suffice to say that this episode is very much what was wrong with Enterprise. A show that tries to moral high horse but essentially can't decide what morals to espouse.
  • Slavery sucks. Actions have consequences. And it's hard to be the captain. WARNING: Full review has spoilers.

    9.0
    On the surface this episode is pretty basic. New advanced race with 3 genders meets the crew of Enterprise on friendly terms, but there's a problem. The new race treats some of its members like second class citizens. Trip tries to right this wrong and problems arise. In this episode people tend to take away what they want to see from it. Some see the situation with the Cogenitor and see the problems with prying too soon into a culture you know too little about in an honest and well meaning attempt to make things better, which results in disaster. Some see the necessity which Trip saw, to intervene in a situation because it is the right thing to do, which also ended in catastrophe. The brilliance in this episode is that it covers thought provoking topics without coming off as heavy handed in doing so. The problem with what Trip does is that he gave no thought to the possible outcomes and consequences of his actions. Slavery is wrong, as is the mistreatment of people based on belief or circumstances of birth. All should be treated fairly in a just world. The rub is though; that we do not live in a just world. Some see Archer's comments at the end of the episode as being out of character or too harsh on Trip, who after all, was only doing the 'right thing.' However, Trip did not stop to consider that he put all of humanity at risk with his actions. Trip provoked a technologically superior race by meddling in deeply rooted custom that drove the very fabric of their society. The entire race depended on the Cogenitors for it's existence and they could have reacted very badly to what Trip did. It very well could have ended with a bloody war that humanity would have lost. It is also important to note that the Cogenitor was not unhappy early in the episode. We don't see a huge smile and tap dance number, but neither do we see depression or sadness. Instead we see kind of a detached calm, a quiet contentment. Archer is upset because he realizes how horrible the whole situation is. The Cogenitor deserved a better life but it did not ask for help. If it had asked for help it's quite possible Archer would have jumped to help it as we so often see him do in other situations. Archer knew that giving help to the Cogenitor would have consequences. He wants to be able to help everyone but has been forced to pick and choose his battles. Being the captain and a representative of all humanity in this bold new frontier, he knows he cannot always do what he wants. He is forced to see the shades of gray that we are confronted with in everyday life. The best, and worst, part of the whole episode is the ending. Archer makes the very difficult decision to send the Cogenitor back to its people, only to receive message that it commited suicide. The acting in the scene where Archer tells Trip is superb. We wish for the happy ending but we get the reality. Actions have consequences. The Cogenitor died, a baby was never born, and a possible war was avoided. The Cogenitors will go on being treated like second rate people. No one is happy and everyone is forced to change the way they think about things. However, optimist that I am, I like to think that later on the Cogenitors take their place as equals in a great society.
  • There are some problems that can't be resolved

    9.1
    For a rare instance, the crew finally meets a race that doesn't have some evil agenda against the Enterprise. And it is also an even rarer instant on 'Enterprise' where everything isn't tidely resolved by the end of the episode. These are all reasons why this was one of the best episodes so far. After a season of fairly standard plots, this one breaks free and brings something truly thought provoking to audiences. Definitely one of the best.
  • A very atypical storyline for Enterprise

    8.9
    I found \"Cogenitor\" to be an Enterprise episode much unlike any other. The episode was tense, unsettling and thought-provoking. The reason for this is the new race of beings encountered by Enterprise, the Vissians. There is a third gender among the Vissians known as a Cogenitor which is used for procreation purposes only. Trip makes acquaintance with and eventually forms a bond with this Cogenitor. When he learns of the mistreatment they are forced to endure, while the captain is away he starts teaching the Cogenitor to read. This leads to a sense of hope in the Cogenitor and by the end of the episode, \"she\" is asking for aslyum aboard Enterprise. This is where the episode becomes thought-provoking. What would you do? Well, Capt. Archer deems that it is not their place to interfere and the Cogenitor is handed over. Just when you think everything is okay, the captain is notified that the Cogenitor committed suicide. This of course, results in \"her\" death as well as that of the child she cannot conceive for the Vissian couple. This results in a very emotional final scene where Capt. Archer reprimands Trip and lectures him on just how damaging and far-reaching his actions were. This was one episode that will stick in my mind because of it\'s insight into discrimination, interfering with other alien races (cultures), and the rare scene where Archer and Trip are probably on their worst of terms despite their strong friendship.
  • Essentially, a tale about meddling in the affairs of others.... or why not to do so!

    8.0
    This episode plays out like a tragedy. Finally, the crew meet an alien race and things go wrong! Well, I guess there had to be some form of conflict, drama, otherwise this would have been another dead/dying episode. The close proximity of the characters during the screenplay, provides a real feel for the close bonds forming between the crew of the Enterprise and that of the Vissians. Drama is of a philosphical sociological nature as Trip tries to right what he sees as an injustice.
    Add to this some strong dialogue, different ship interiors (Vissians), a well constructed conflict device in Trip's singleminded attempt to "free" the cogenitor vs the delicate balance of the alien race's culture and there is enough here for a very good episode, considering some of the last dozen or so...

    And of course there is Andreas Katsulas - he just makes everything believeable with absolute ease! Even though, this plot type (alien sexual dynmaics) has been used before in ST:TNG, this episode does stand on its own, even if there is no real action to speak of.

    Yet I would recommend this episode as one the better ones, perhaps because the screentime isnt solely focused between members of the senior staff.
  • One of the first truly brilliant episodes of Enterprise.

    10
    Trinneer and Becky Wahlstrom (the cogenitor) are exceptional in this episode - that explores a species that has a third gender - treated as nothing more than a pet.

    The final ten minutes of this episode is definetly the best dramatic character moments of the show thus far - Archer reprimanding Trip is great - especially Trip's somewhat stunned reaction. The final moment is poignant and sadly drums in what can happen when you interfere with something that isn't your business.

    The episode has a curious B-plot to it, with Archer going exploring a star with the Vissian captain (played by the excellent Andreas Katsulas) - basically, nothing happens except some banter and great CGI, I can only assume the reason is to show two people's different approaches to first contact - and how one can go so well, and the other disastrously...

    Note should also go to a scene I really like the lightning and directing in - which is the mess hall scene - with the orangey light where Reed & Trip flirt with the Vissian girls (very 'Generations' feel to it)
  • The Humans just established first contact with a new friendly spcies with higher technology and Trip starts acting himself. Irreparably damaging an incredibly wonderful relationship potential between 2 species. Many other spesies would have declared war b

    8.4
    Now isnt the time to comment, pass judgements or attempt to introduce human rights views. Itd be like the hindus coming to new zealand and telling everyone not to kill cows. Cutting off hands for stealing is a rather extreme way for some cultures to carry out justice. Yes, we should point this out to them, but if we did this every time we meet a new culture we might as well declare war.

    Every culture, even on earth consider other cultures as offensive. They are same sex marriages, gays, barbaric justice systems, cultures who consider fetuses a delicacy, etc. But first contact is first contact. Any views should be pointed out after cultural relationships are well established. Its acceptable for the Vulcan & humans to pass cultural opinions about each other because theyve had a long well established relationship. But what Trip did is totally inexcusable. If it was any other species (Klingons, Romulans, etc) an entire crew would probably be destoyed by now. I hope he learnt his lesson!
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